The Jolene hitmaker, 77, at the time was understandably delighted. She said that she was “so excited” and told her friends before she was told that Elvis even wanted her to come to the studio so he could meet her.
“I told everybody. They had called me [to tell me] that Elvis was recording it. Elvis wanted to meet me and all that,” she shared. But her excitement quickly faded when Elvis’ manager Colonel Tom Parker asked for half of Parton’s publishing rights.
“I said, ‘I’m sorry, but I can’t give you the publishing’,” Parton said. “I wanted to hear Elvis sing it, and it broke my heart — I cried all night.”
She continued, “But I had to keep that copyright in my pocket. You have to take care of your business! Everybody’s going to use you if they can. These are my songs — they’re like my children. And I expect them to support me when I’m old!”
According to Insider, though Presley never recorded the song, Parton shared that Presley’s ex-wife told her that he sang the song to her when she and Presley divorced.
The song was originally written in 1973, inspired by Parton’s former partner and mentor Porter Wagoner. Parton wrote the song about her decision to separate from Wagoner professionally. W Magazine reported that when she sang it for him, he said, “That’s the best song you ever wrote. And you can go, if I can produce that song.”
In 1992, Whitney Houston covered the song for the romance film The Bodyguard. The song was played at Houston’s funeral when she died in 2012.